Wall Street Journal

One of New York City’s most popular bars is about to get a lot bigger.

The Dead Rabbit, a lower Manhattan drinking spot that sees wait times of 2 hours on busy nights, has signed a lease on a two-floor space adjacent to its Water Street site. The bar plans to combine the two locations, nearly doubling its total size to 5,500 square feet.

Dead Rabbit co-founders Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon wouldn’t provide financial details about the lease on the adjoining space, which previously was home to a sandwich shop. But they said the term is for 17 years.

Messrs. McGarry and Muldoon said the cost for design and construction of the project would run at least $750,000, with the expanded bar expected to launch in April. Meanwhile, the existing Dead Rabbit space will remain open.

For the Dead Rabbit, the opportunity to expand is a fortuitous one. The Irish-themed bar has become a hot spot since its 2013 opening, celebrated for its adventurous approach to mixology and vast selection of Irish whiskey. In 2016, it was named the world’s best bar in an annual global survey.

“They’re the poster child of success,” said Art Sutley, publisher of Bar Business Magazine, a trade journal.

The more popular the Dead Rabbit has become, the more challenging it has been for the bar to deliver a quality experience, as evidenced by the long wait times.

“It goes against the grain of what an Irish bar should be,” Mr. McGarry said.

The bar, which draws a number of tourists, has seen an 11% increase in sales in 2017 alone, according to Messrs. McGarry and Muldoon. The co-founders declined to provide revenue figures.

Messrs. McGarry and Muldoon said they have turned down offers to grow their concept by opening other Dead Rabbit locations, noting that the bar is partly inspired by lower Manhattan’s history. The Dead Rabbits was a 19th-century street gang that called the area home.

Thus, expanding next door became the only option—provided one became available. “We thought it would happen if we were patient enough,” Mr. Muldoon said.

The Dead Rabbit team already has expanded in another way, however, by creating an altogether different concept. In 2016, Messrs. McGarry and Muldoon opened BlackTail, a Cuban-themed bar in lower Manhattan’s Pier A Harbor House.

The pair said they are looking into opening another bar in the Pier A space as well, with the theme still to be determined.

Jack McGarry